Hiding emotions honestly creates a lot of problems for us humans.
Yet, we do it.
Either we aren’t ready to feel our emotions, we don’t feel safe enough to feel them, or we don’t want to be vulnerable.
My coaching clients have often told me: I’m afraid I’ll be stuck… if I go there. (there… being emotional expression).
I understand because I felt the same way.
Let feelings be messengers of what within you needs your love, attention, and action.
When Hiding Emotions isn’t an Option
As a child, I used to hide my feelings.
However, when my husband passed away 14 years ago, unexpectedly and from the C word, my life broke open.
Suppressing emotions was no longer an option for me.
Our sons were young at the time, ages 11 and 17, and the loss was unimaginable to us.
My fear of losing people I love, which I’d carried all my life, had come to pass.
It was a ball of snakes, grief piled on top of a lifetime of fear and buried anger.
But, after everything that happened, anxiety showed up in unusual ways.
Suddenly, I was afraid of fog and on foggy days, I was sick to my stomach.
Fog gave me a sense of being stuck, which created anxiety. The denser the fog, the worse it got.
The only way to deal with it was to get in my car and drive to the sun.
Somewhere, there had to be sunshine.
I’ll drive until I see the sun, even if I end up across the country. That’s what I told myself.
I turned off all weather reports and didn’t talk to people who enjoyed talking about the weather.
Instead, I’d tell myself over and over that it’s got to be sunny somewhere.
Is driving into an imaginary sun one way of finding control?
Sure it is.
When I couldn’t find sunshine, and it was time to pick up my son from school, I’d pull off the side of the road and do EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
My fog anxiety script, the one I’d carefully written, was in my glove compartment.
I’d tap for ten minutes or so. I’d pray to my Jewish grandparents. I’d cry. And eventually, I’d feel calm enough to drive home.
This went all on all winter.
Physical and Emotional Health
Sometimes we find our way back to emotional health, expressing feelings and emotional release by writing or doing something creative.
One night, at about 2:00 am, a book came to me about a caterpillar who doesn’t believe she can be a butterfly. I was the caterpillar, lost and grief-stricken, trying to find her way.
In the story, the caterpillar loses someone she loves. She finds a puddle to soak her pain, which is a well of all healing created by the rain.
My sweet caterpillar was in a great deal of emotional stress and pain.
While writing about the caterpillar, I dove into my own puddle of grief, anger, and confusion.
My own emotions were flooding out faster than I could keep up with them.
But, the sadness I’d gotten so good at burying was finally with me.
In the real world, I actually sat in my closet for about 30 minutes each day, where it was quiet and peaceful.
In my imagination, I swam in the puddle with my caterpillar and allowed whatever emotion came up to be there. Emotional suppression was no longer possible for me.
True feelings versus hiding emotions
As Pema Chodron says in When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, I leaned into my emotions without resisting them. I reminded myself, moment by moment, that the only way past is through.
Being with my true feelings transformed me.
Here’s what helped me express my feelings, my true feelings, even though at first expressing them to myself and my therapist was like pulling a rope out of wet cement.
5 GREAT REASONS TO LEAN IN
Because your emotions are telling you all kinds of things, there are a few key reasons to lean into your emotions.
Therefore, I have a beef with the term “negative emotion” because it implies that the emotion is bad.
Emotions just are! They are telling us that something in our life needs our attention!!
1. It’s soulful to feel your way through life.
It’s extremely soulful to feel your way through the nooks and crannies of your life.
Maybe you’re sad about the loss of people, chapters in life, or the loss of your own innocence.
And possibly, you’re angry that life is unfair and you feel powerless at times.
Or, maybe you hate weakness and you’re repelled by people who are weak, including this part of yourself.
Accepting the parts of you that are weak is certainly an act of self-love and self-acceptance.
So, instead of judging or avoiding emotions, let them be a messenger of what within you needs love and attention.
2. Emotional communication connects you.
Our emotions connect us to others we want to connect with.
Down here on the ground turn to family, friends, mentors, books, authors, etc. Talk to them, turn to them.
And if you’re not ready, write in a journal, write to your future self. Write to your inner child.
Whatever you do, don’t keep it bottled up. This causes too much emotional pain.
I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable with others unless it’s a person I feel safe with.
Meaning, they don’t compete with me and they don’t secretly wish for me to fall apart since they are so miserable… you get the idea. 💡
Being vulnerable isn’t easy and you certainly don’t HAVE to do it with anyone you don’t feel safe with.
However, once you do feel safe, it feels soulful to connect with someone on a deep emotional level.
Certain emotions are from experiences you’ve forgotten!
Some feelings go so deep, that you don’t know where they started. You don’t know its “root cause.”
However, there may be NO root cause hidden emotions in this life.
The feelings can be from experiences you’ve forgotten, or they go so far back in time that you’ve no idea they ever happened. Do you know where I’m going with this?
During this process of leaning in, you may realize that somewhere deeper, whether it’s the little girl within you, or a man or woman from centuries ago, you might be carrying that energy.
I mean, why else do we feel so much pressure to be enough? Is it just this life?
I doubt it!
3. Your emotions want to be felt, not analyzed.
Feelings are all swimming around in there and you don’t need to understand them.
Sometimes, your desire to understand is in the way. Because it’s keeping you from feeling… you know, it keeps you stuck in your head.
Have you heard that the longest journey is the 18” journey from the head to the heart?
Feel and repeat
Boring as it may be, and repetitive as it may seem, show up each day for what you feel.
This helps heal your heart and lighten your load, day by day, bit by bit, as long as your clear intention is to be free. The rule of thumb here is: Don’t dwell in or repress emotion. There’s a “middle way”.
4. Sadness can be gentle and comforting.
As you allow yourself to feel your emotions, in a place where you feel safe and secure, it is a relief and comforting to be with it all.
For me, once I felt safe, either in my closet, with my therapist, a trusted friend, or with my spirit guides, I was able to allow the depth of my sadness.
Once I was there, deep inside the puddle, oddly, I felt comforted.
Maybe my guides were holding me, or maybe it was simply time and I felt safe enough to be sad about everything, but underneath my anger was sadness.
Quiet the mind and allow yourself to be with what is.
Quiet your mind and allow yourself to be with what is, to swim with it, while reminding yourself that you’re swimming in a sea with many others. That your heartache is a shared one.
This realization can be extremely healing and comforting.
5. Your emotions connect you to your spiritual nature.
At some point, see your anger, heartache, and fear as tiny birds on your shoulder.
Emotions remind you of the road you’ve traveled. And while it’s been bumpy, it’s also been joy-filled, interesting, and fulfilling too… I hope.
This journey serves your soul because the soul is here to learn and evolve. So all of the murky emotions that are not our favorite ones, they serve us.
Remind yourself that you’re not alone.
You have a benevolent and supportive team, physical and non-physical with you at all times. Surround yourself with them at all times by asking them in, speaking to them, and telling them that you need assistance.
Your spiritual time will be dependent on your religious beliefs and go all in! As a Jewish woman, I bring in God/Source/Universe, my spirit guides, my deceased relatives… and that’s in the non-physical world.
Instead of hiding emotions, or judging and avoiding certain emotions, let them be a messenger of what within you needs love and attention.
You are a spiritual being having a human experience and hiding emotions keeps you from knowing what you need to learn and grow.
Love yourself through it all.